Jaguar Rescue Center in Costa Rica

The Jaguar Rescue Center is an incredible opportunity to learn about wildlife conservation in Costa Rica by hanging out with sloths, monkeys, jungle cats and more. And, while I’m not the type to get all excited about a kitten or puppy, when you see baby monkeys learning to climb and baby sloths lounging in a picnic basket you’re going to think “could I smuggle that home in my carry-on?” Fortunately, part of the experience is learning about the problems that Costa Rica faces with animal smuggling and you’ll probably come to your senses before you try to steal a sloth and end up in prison.

Sloths at Jaguar Rescue Center

What is the Jaguar Rescue Center

The first thing to understand is that this is not a zoo (and that there are no jaguars). The center was started as a sanctuary for jaguars but evolved to include all types of animals, including snakes, caymans (think small crocodile that is not as dangerous) and crocodiles.

Animals at the center are there for rehabilitation with the goal of releasing them into the wild. All of the animals at the center are there because of some sort of incident such as an injury, confiscation from smugglers or similar circumstances. Their goal is to do what they can to improve the health of the animals and give them the skills that they will need to be able to survive on their own in the wild.

baby monkey at jaguar rescue center

Tours at the Jaguar Rescue Center

All of the tours at the Jaguar Rescue Center are conducted by volunteers who are passionate about the center’s cause. The foundation does not receive governmental funding which means that tours are one of their primary sources of revenue to keep the operation up and running. My guide, Sarah, was extremely knowledgeable, funny and helpful. The tour takes about an hour and half and walks you through some of the history of the foundation. You will also learn about Costa Rica’s wildlife and some of the challenges that they face as the country becomes more developed.

One of the more shocking statistics included the number of animals that the foundation receives because they are electrocuted by electric wires that are not insulated. This is one of the many causes that the foundation is currently raising money to help with. They plan to fund initiatives to insulate these wires in the near future, piece by piece as they are able to raise the funds to do so.

While some animals have been harmed by animal cruelty or accidents like those on the power lines, there are also those that are brought in because they are found injured on the roadside or some similar incident. Some of the examples that we were able to view included birds that had to have pins put in their wings and a mother sloth with a broken arm. The Jaguar Rescue Center provides access to a veterinarian (the only paid member of the staff), even for some of the more complicated surgeries, and then the staff takes care of the animal until it is ready to be released back into the wild.

Animal rehabilitation

The variety of animals at the Jaguar Rescue Center was much more varied than I’d expected. They range from caymans and crocodiles to sloths and monkeys, jungle cats, like margays and ocelots, to all types of birds. In 2015, animals arriving at the center included 248 mammals (24 different species) – 106 were released (43%), 100 birds – 34 were released (34%) and 104 reptiles – 79 were released (76%). Right now (April 2017) there are 80 mammals, 30 birds and 50 reptiles that you can view during your visit.

Hours Mon – Sat 9:30am and 11:30am (closed Sun)
Price $20 (cash or credit)
Languages English, Spanish, German & Dutch
Reservations Not required

Jaguar Rescue Center Location and Hours

[map w=”600″ h=”200″ marker=”yes” lat=”9.642888″ lon=”-82.7252637″ z=”15″]

Hours Mon – Sat 9:30am and 11:30am (closed Sun)
Address Route 256, Cocles, Costa Rica
Facebook Jaguar Rescue Center
TripAdvisor Reviews
Phone +507 2750-0710

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